Please welcome special guest Dominic Chekovsky to the virtual offices this morning. Dominic took some time away from his busy practice schedule to introduce himself, so give him a big hello!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Dominic Chekovsky] Dedicated, competitive, sincere, misunderstood, and sensitive. What? I am.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in the life of Dominic Chekovsky?
[Dominic Chekovsky] It’s all about hockey and Diana. I get up and plug in the coffee maker for Diana while I make a protein shake for myself. Usually this takes about an hour, because Diana strolls into the kitchen looking adorable with her curls going in every direction and distracts me. Then I head to the arena for hockey practice. I play hard. It’s going to be a banner season. By the evening, I’m ready to reconnect with Diana again and relax. We’re homebodies lately, preferring to entertain ourselves at home. She’s still trying to beat me in sock hockey. Once in awhile I let her win, because it benefits me. In two weeks, we’re taking a few days to travel to Cottage Grove and meet up with our friends.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to choose one moment that made you the person you are today, which would it be?
[Dominic Chekovsky] *grows serious* My parents. Their unending support and dedication in my career have made me the man I am today. My father gave me the advice as a young boy, "Whatever you do, throw your heart into it and you’ll always be happy." I think that’s true, don’t you?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of Diana?
[Dominic Chekovsky] Hot, Mouthy, Adorable. *sighs on a smile* She’s perfect for me.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you find most exasperating about her?
[Dominic Chekovsky] *scoots to the edge of his chair and lowers his voice* She argues a lot. Don’t tell her I said this, but her attitude drives me crazy. Sometimes I’ll argue with her just to set her off, so I can see the passion in her. She’s beautiful but when she fights, she steals my breath away.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?
[Dominic Chekovsky] Ugh. I approached Diana all wrong back when I first met her. I’ve learned a lot about women since we got together, thanks to her. It all worked out for the best but if I would’ve known the secret to handling women, I would’ve stayed out of trouble early on in my career. I would’ve learned to say no to them sooner, before my life derailed.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?
[Dominic Chekovsky] My car keys. Only because if I don’t take them with me, Diana steals my Porsche out of the garage. I’ve never seen a woman so attached to a car before. She drives way too fast.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.
[Dominic Chekovsky] Babies. *grins and looks away* Yeah, babies with Diana.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
[Dominic Chekovsky] Thanks! It’s been fun. Don’t forget to watch the San Jose Sharks. We’re gonna kick ass this season.
To learn more about Dominic and Diana, be sure to read Debra Kayn’s Seductively.
Check out Wildly Book One in Debra’s Playing for Hearts series, too
About the book:
Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?
Wow! This is the seventh Play by Play novel, and I still haven’t read The Perfect Play (which I purchased at Borders during their fire sale). I like that the background looks like ice. Even though everything about this cover makes me think of winter, which I hate, I still think it’s fun to look at.
In stores February 2014
Title: Falling for the Backup
Author: Toni Aleo
May Contain Spoilers
This novella did not work for me, and judging from the ratings on GoodReads, I am definitely in the minority in regards to this title. I wanted to read Falling for the Backup because it’s a sport romance with hockey, and I love hockey. How can I not? I’m from Detroit, and hockey is in our blood. What else is there to look forward to in the middle of the long, dreary winters? Why, the battle for the Stanley Cup is about all that keeps us from falling into a bleak, seasonal depression.
Jordan Ryan is a goalie for the Assassins, but after an injury that almost ended his career, he’s gone from superstar to backup. Frustrated with his life, he’s watched his career go down the toilet, his fiancée left him when he was at his most vulnerable, and now he’s warming the bench for a hotshot youngster who’s taken his position, as well as the all of the glory that goes with it. Desperate to play again, he’s shopping himself around the league with his father’s help. His father is his agent, and he’s adamant that Jordan stay on the straight and narrow and that he doesn’t do anything to jeopardize a contract offer from another team. Easy enough. Jordan’s only interest in life is getting back on the ice full-time.
Until he meets Aynslee on a flight home to Nashville. After he accidentally dumps a cup of coffee on her dress, Aynslee can’t keep her eyes, or her mind, off of Jordan. She thinks they have a connection, but after disembarking, he takes off with a curt good-bye. No phone numbers are exchanged, and Aynslee is confused. And disappointed. How could the most breathtaking guy she’d ever seen take off without even getting her number. Ugh!
When they continue to bump into each other, Jordan finally gives in and allows Aynslee to sweep him off his feet. The timing stinks because he’ll be leaving town once he signs with a new team, but he lets her know up front that they aren’t, and can’t be, a long term thing. Aynslee goes along, willing to put her worries about their breakup in the back of her mind. She’s sure that Jordan will change his mind and that they will figure out a way to stay together.
Why didn’t this work for me? Because Jordan and Aynslee are obviously meant to be together, but Jordan is too caught up in himself to even think of asking Aynslee to go with him to his new team. He’s convinced himself, without asking her, that she’s got a perfect life, with perfect friends, in Nashville, and that she would never consider moving. This just frustrated me, because after dismissing a long distance relationship because they never work out, he is resigned instead to breaking up with the love of his life and moving off to reestablish his glory on the ice. Aynslee isn’t much better, because she can’t seem to discuss their impending breakup, either. She’s just content with the way things are, and she has faith that things will work out, without any effort on her part.
The other aspect of the novella that bothered me was that both characters acted too young for their ages. Jordan is in his early thirties, but his behavior was closer to a guy in his early twenties. Sure, his confidence has taken a few knocks after losing his starting position and after getting dumped by his girlfriend, but it was like he reverted to a much younger version of himself, and I just couldn’t buy into that.
This is a quick, steamy read, and you can get beyond the contrived conflict, it will make a great beach read.
Review copy provided by publisher
Oh-lala! I have a cover reveal for Toni Aleo’s Falling for the Backup! This is an Assassins series novella, and it will be available June 24. What do you think of it?
Falling for the Backup: An Assassins Series Novella by Toni Aleo
Loveswept – Random House | June 24, 2013 | $0.99
Pre-order Falling for the Backup
Connect with Toni
Title: Game. Set. Match.
Author: Jennifer Iacopelli
May Contain Spoilers
Wow! Coliloquy does it again! Here’s another book with lots of angst, set amid the ultra competitive world of tennis. Here’s a secret; I can’t stand tennis, and yet I couldn’t put this book down! The interpersonal relationships had me hooked. Would Penny get over her fling with tennis bad boy Alex? Would Jasmine live up to her parents’ legacy? Would Indy ever fit in at OBX and make her dreams of being a top tennis player come true? Will I get over the cruelty of those painful little words – THE END??
While I don’t enjoy tennis, I was drawn to this book because I love sports stories. It doesn’t matter what the sport is, either. As long as the protagonists are committed to training hard and being the best they can be, I’m onboard. There is just something about a competitor refusing to be second best that keeps me engaged in their struggles. I want to see them persevere, to overcome all obstacles in their path, and become the best they can be. Throw in rivals, disinterested parents, interfering parents – in short, any emotionally distracting relationship, and I am that much more invested in the story.
Game. Set. Match. has three central characters, and the book is told in alternating POVs. Penny has just won her first major tournament, defeating the world’s number one player. She’s determined to win the French Open next, but she’s still having flashbacks to a disastrous competition where Alex Russell messed with her mind, her heart, and destroyed her game. To her utter dismay, her coach has brought Alex to OBX to help her train. Can she keep herself together and ignore the attraction raging between them? Can she ever trust him again? I loved this story line, because Alex is such a player, yet he’s ready to make a commitment to Penny, if only she’ll give him the time of day. There was a lot of great tension between Alex and Penny, as they both strove to train for their matches at the French Open. Penny has so many pressures now that she’s finding success, from potential sponsors to rivals waiting in the wings to take her down a notch. Great stuff here!
Jasmine is probably my least favorite character, because she came across as a spoiled princess. Her parents were both tennis superstars, and since she was seven, all she’s wanted was to follow in their footsteps. When Indy shows up at OBX and promptly derails her dreams and hopes for the future, she lashes out at her new tennis opponent. Jasmine lost the mental game long before she even stepped out on the court. She expected that success would just fall into her lap, without her truly working for it. While I did like her better by the end of the book, it took a lot for her to win me over.
Indy gave up on tennis after her mother’s death. After Penny wins the Madrid Open, her fire to play tennis is re-ignited. She is surprised that her offer to attend OBX is still open, and jumps at the chance to train at the best tennis academy in the country. I really liked Indy and found her story arc highly engrossing. Still reeling from her mother’s death, she and her father have a distant relationship at best. She’s never been as interesting to him as his work, and Indy has resented his indifference for years. Now she’s facing the toughest competition of her life, and she’s learning the hard way that tennis is more about the mental game than she realized. Her early success at OBX hasn’t earned her any friends among her classmates. She’s surprised to discover how down to earth Penny is, and the two girls soon become close, which leads to more rivalries with the other girls at the academy. Indy’s story was my favorite, and I thought that her romantic pursuit of Jack, Penny’s older brother, was very sweet.
Game. Set. Match is a great read with lots of emotion. Even if you don’t usually enjoy sports stories, give this a try. It’s more about relationships and chasing your dreams than tennis.
Grade: B / B+
Review copy provided by publisher
I’m excited to help with the cover reveal for Toni Aleo’s Blue Lines. This is book 4 in Toni’s Assassins series. What do you think? While I love the guy’s back, I don’t think I’m over the moon about his jeans. Would I like it better without them? Ummmm…yeah. What do you think?
About the book:
Random House and other retailers: http://www.randomhouse.com/book/227840/blue-lines-the-assassins-series-by-toni-aleo
Title: Riding on Air
Author: Maggie Gilbert
May Contain Spoilers
One guess why I wanted to read Riding on Air. Yup, it’s got a horse on the cover. Riding plays a big, big part of the story, so if you find horses boring, you might have a problem feeling engaged in the plot. That wasn’t a problem for me! I immediately felt comfortable with Melissa, and I agonized with her as she stubbornly refuses to give up her one, true love – horseback riding. Sounds kind of melodramatic, but Melissa’s fears and hopes rang so true for me. I would be devastated if I had to give up my horses, so I could sympathize with her right away.
As I’m getting ready for the first horse show of the season (which starts on Wednesday), Melissa’s efforts to prepare her horse Jinx for an important dressage show were instantly relatable. Melissa has one added challenge; she has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, which makes her joints ache and her fingers burn with pain. I personally can’t imagine riding if my hands were that painful, because contrary to popular belief, you don’t just get on a horse and sit there. You have to ride every stride. You have to keep the horse between your hands and your seat, and your hands need to be light and responsive, ready to check the horse back with both your hands and your seat. If your hands aren’t there for you, you won’t be there for your horse. Melissa stubbornly refuses to ask for help with Jinx, because she wants to prove that she’s just as normal as anyone else, and because she’s fearful that her parents will forbid her from riding.
As Melissa’s condition worsens, a bright spot does enter her life. She’s had a crush on William, a friend of her brothers, forever, and when he asks her out, she is over the moon. As their relationship begins to bloom, though, she is overcome with doubts. How can William like her, or find her attractive, when her hands are such an ugly mess. She can’t see beyond her illness, and she believes that nobody else can, either. When she takes a bad fall from Jinx, William tries to make her understand how important she is to him by asking her to stop riding, at least until her fingers aren’t as painful. In a panic, Melissa accuses him of trying to ruin her life, and of not understanding how important Jinx’s success is to her. Ouch! As if she doesn’t have enough on her mind, now she’s heartbroken because her boyfriend doesn’t understand her.
I enjoyed Riding on Air a lot. The horse scenes were authentic, and got me excited about going to a show myself. Melissa’s struggles to overcome all of the challenges thrown her way were compelling, and kept me engaged in the story. While I would have liked this book just because of the horsey stuff, what made it a fulfilling read is the personal growth Melissa undergoes. She begins to re-examine her relationships, and realizes that maybe she’s not being fair to her friends and family. While they want to help her, she thinks their concerns are stifling her. It’s only after she’s able to let go of her fierce need for independence that she is finally able to ride on air.
Review copy provided by publisher